Former Labour leader Ed Miliband said he “has got to embrace Brexit because the argument is over”.
The comments come after Labour Manchester mayor Andy Burnham told The London Economic that everybody needs to “embrace the fact that this is a new reality in the UK”.
Miliband made his statement on LBC despite having backed the Remain campaign ahead of the 2016 EU referendum.
In the 2015 general election, Miliband ran for prime minister without promising an EU referendum, but his Tory opponent David Cameron did.
Speaking to journalist Matt Frei, Miliband said: “We used to think big as a country. I actually think Brexit is a big idea. I didn’t support it but I think it is a big idea.
Asked if he now embraces Brexit, the Labour MP replied: “Yes. I’ve got to embrace it because that argument is over.
“We’ve got to build a post-Brexit future.”
Miliband added: “I didn’t see [Brexit] as an opportunity. I now see it as a necessity.
“It has happened and we’ve got to build a future. There’s no point in sort of bleating on about it. We had the referendum. We had the general election. It was a decisive result.”
Green and social revamp
Miliband called for a rethink of the country’s way of operating, saying “we made our institutions” – and we can “remake” them.
He said the “social contract” of work and family should be rewritten, giving fathers “proper time off” and mothers “proper maternity leave” when their children are born.
“This isn’t just good for kids, it’s the best investment we can make for our economy and a happier country,” he said.
Miliband also thinks the UK should tackle the climate crisis whilst recognising it’s “not just about avoiding disaster”.
He said: “It is about creating millions of jobs across out country, doing the work that needs to be done, insulating homes, cutting air pollution, creating a better world.
“We should have a nationwide programme of retrofitting home insulation, to cut people’s energy bills and create jobs. It’s got to be a proper house by house, street by street operation.
“We can create manufacturing jobs across the country. There’s a global race in terms of who is going to build the electric cars of the future. We’ve got to make these cars affordable for people, not just the richest in our society.”
He said the government’s targets are “all very well”, but it is delivering on them that is important.
“We set the targets, but don’t do the action,” he said, adding: “Unless the government puts its financial muscle behind it, we’re not going to do it.
“But it’s not just about money. Take the issue of bus services, one of our greatly underestimated issues of our time. If Andy Burnham wanted to have municipal ownership of the buses, he can’t do it by law.”